MacLachlan crafts an elegantly spare novel about the healing power of dogs and love—much as she did in 2011’s Waiting for the Magic, though this story sticks to realism, forgoing the talking animals of that book. Narrator Zoe Cassidy and her 10-year-old younger sister, Alice (“the storyteller of the family”), enjoy a warm, animal-centric life with their parents: their father is a veterinarian, and their mother rescues Great Pyrenees dogs. When an enigmatic and silent nine-year-old boy named Phillip moves in with a dour couple across the street, the family gradually defrosts the relationship with help from its houseful of dogs. Zoe’s joyful household contrasts starkly with Phillip’s quiet one, living with two relatives who are caring for him while his parents “solve a problem.” Kodi (a hulking Great Pyr) and a cheeky parrot named Lena are the first to encourage Phillip’s thaw. MacLachlan builds tension when Phillip and another dog, Jack, disappear during a storm. A graceful and quiet narrative with keen observations on how time and affection can remedy pain. Ages 7–up. Agent: Rubin Pfeffer, East West Literary Agency. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/07/2013 Release date: 03/19/2013 Genre: Children's
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